Samsung’s Instinct Feels Less Than Instinctive

Playing with the Instinct, Samsung’s answer to the iPhone, is a fun experience, but not one I could handle on a daily basis. The touch interface is nice, with a satisfying vibration each time the phone registers a touch command, but lacks an accelerometer to register the changes in direction, like the iPhone has.

The Instinct will be available in June, and it appears to have all the features a consumer could dream of wanting.
In fact the phone has so many features crammed onto it, and it’s such a small device, that it was hard to do things without accidentally taking a picture or hitting one of the three hard-wired buttons on the bottom. The same thing happens on my BlackBerry Pearl, however, so my fat fingers might be the problem.

The navigation feature, which is powered by TeleNav and incorporates voice-activation technology from Microsoft (acquired through its TellMe acquisition), was my favorite. I could just tell the phone the name of one location and it would bring up a list of others nearby. Click on a car icon and it figures out where you are and then offers turn-by-turn directions to the place of your choosing. The icon will also appear near addresses in emails, eliminating one step in getting directions.

The phone uses a proprietary Samsung- and Sprint-developed operating system. The software-based keyboard can be used in landscape mode or vertically. When web searching, the keyboard contains a handy dedicated “.com” key. Surfing was easy and you could drag your finger across the screen to navigate down the page.

The television service, provided by Mobi, is still under development, so was slow to load and pixelated. Downloading music was easy, although the files downloaded from the Sprint store were a scant 1 MB, which makes me wonder about their quality. Battery life is about 5.5 hours, according to a spokeswoman, which includes a mix of talking and data usage. The phone will also come with a second external battery.

The best part about the phone seems to be that these features will be available under Sprint’s unlimited plan. That includes, texting, talking, navigation and data. But without an idea of what Sprint plans to charge for the phone, it’s hard to say how this stacks up against the competition that is similarly aimed at challenging the iPhone. And although not as intuitive as the iPhone, if the price is reasonable, given how many services Sprint includes in the plan, the Instinct may be a bargain.